Working remotely is the latest trend but not by choice. With Covid-19 forcing the world to move to remote working where possible, it begs the question, is remote working the future?
As the workforce transitions back to office work, it’s looking incredibly different. With lift restrictions in place, some office buildings are finding it’ll take up to an hour for their staff to get inside. Not to mention the wait times for a bus that isn’t full on a daily commute. With all of these issues in place, it’d make sense for those who can work from home to continue to do so.
Studies also show that on average, employees that work from home spent less time on the clock but more time achieving productive work. However, they also show that 20% of remote workers struggle with loneliness. As we move forward, we’ve got to wonder whether added flexibility and productivity is worth the loneliness or whether a balance will be sculpted.
I turned to Zach Brewer, our Chief Sales Officer, to find out whether remote working is the future.
Will remote working become the new normal?
For our team it already is. With one in London and the other in Brazil, it’s the new norm for us. I think what will start to become the new normal is remote teams. Aka, small teams that connect together from different areas. Such as a team in Australia that works with and collaborates with a team in Brazil.
Do you think that now people have a taste for working from home that they’ll want to move to this lifestyle or will be more appreciative of office working?
There are such great pros of each. Spontaneous collaboration can be hard when working from home on your own. But then again, trying to get what feels like any actual work done can be hard in the office. I think those that appreciate working from home know that they can sometimes get far more done in a day than what they would otherwise if they were in the office working with teams and in meetings.
Sydney ICT already embraced working remotely before Covid-19 so we were already prepared, what are some tips you would have for businesses wanting to become more agile?
Focus on systems and processes that allow your teams to be mobile, even if they still spend most of their time in the office. Even if it’s being able to hot desk or take their laptop from their desk and work from the couch, build into your teams the mindset that any office space is a workspace. Look to utilising “the cloud” where possible, or if systems/data must be on-premise, then set it up for remote access from day one. This might be harder to implement with an existing large team or system but pays off in the long run.
What is the best tool for you in managing a remote team?
We use and absolutely love Teams from Office 365. It offers simple communication and collaboration and bridges the gap between emails and calls. It’s simple to use and offers powerful collaboration features and integration into existing systems.
What advice do you have for other directors out there regarding remote working policies?
Security and data management is a must. It’s one thing to have staff be able to access data remotely but it’s another to just give them a free for all. Incorporating two-factor authorisation, user permissions and where possible mobile device management gives directors the safety and control that is needed when a potential problem goes belly up.
What do you think the biggest benefit of remote working is for you and your team?
The access to skill and quality that isn’t available in Australia. My staff overseas are some of the best in their industry and I can keep them on my team without having them have to ‘come into the office’.
And what is your biggest challenge?
Any time you have less direct contact with someone is always harder to know where they are at constantly. So, taking the regular time to touch base with the team is really important in maintaining efficient and productive staff and teams. Also taking the time to make sure that your colleagues and staff are mentally healthy and positive and in the right mindset.
As Zach said, not only does working remotely give employees flexibility but it also allows businesses to access expertise that is outside of their geographic vicinity. However, as a manager, he’s found it crucial to check in with his team, not only for workloads but for their health as well. It certainly seems that remote working is the future with companies such as Twitter announcing they will be allowing their staff to continue working remotely forever.
A key point that Zach touched upon, however, is that businesses need to be equipped for allowing remote work. Even if your business isn’t ready to allow teams to work remotely, it’s still important to futureproof yourself and have the right technology in place to be able to work remotely.